US superstar Sydney McLaughlin produced a jaw-dropping performance at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon last night, the 22-year-old smashing her 400m hurdles world record with a time of 50.68, which was seven tenths of a second quicker than her previous mark.
Silver went to Femke Bol of the Netherlands in 52.27, with bronze going to the previous world champion Dalilah Muhammad of USA in 53.13. McLaughin’s run, however, put everything else firmly in the shadows, and after the race she dropped to the track where she sat for considerable time. There were two reasons for that. “I was just trying to process the lactic acid,” she said, “and I was taking a moment to enjoy what had happened.”
Later in the night, her fellow medallists were asked if they thought 50.68 was a time they ever thought was possible. “I definitely thought 50 was possible, and after that race I think 49 is possible – by Sydney,” laughed Muhammad.
How close did McLaughlin think it came to the perfect race?
“I think there’s always more to improve upon. There’s always more than can be shaven off, for sure. There’s no such thing as a perfect race, but I don’t think that was a super-clean race.”
McLaughlin felt like she was in a “flow state” during those 50 seconds where she was “putting everything you’ve done in practice into the race, just letting your body do what it does – releasing the gifts and talents that God’s given you.”
What does the future hold? McLaughlin said it could take any direction now, either to a new event like the 400m or 100m hurdles or a possible double at the Paris Olympics, but she will heed the advice of her coach, Bobby Kersee. “There’s talk of doubles, talks of switching,” she said. “Honestly, I have no clue.”
Meanwhile the Irish women’s 4x100m team of Joan Healy, Adeyemi Talabi, Lauren Roy and Sarah Leahy was well off the pace against some of the world’s best, finishing eighth in their heat in 44.48. The race was won by Britain in 41.99.
“It’s a fantastic experience, I’m delighted we got it around,” said Roy. “It could have been a faster time but that’s all you can do: try our best, and we did.”
Healy said the event was a “stepping stone to get the team to the next World Championships” and she hoped it will be the first of many Irish 4x100m teams at global championships in the years ahead. “With the pool of athletes we have, I think there’s serious potential of getting a team to Worlds and the focus needs to be on getting a team to Paris,” she said. “Once everyone is on the same page with that, wanting the same thing, we have a really good shot of lining up there.”
There are just two Irish individual athletes left to compete: Sarah Lavin races her 100m hurdles heat at 7:34pm Irish time this evening, while Brendan Boyce goes in the 35km race walk at 2:15pm Irish time tomorrow.